“Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depressive Illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar Disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But Bipolar Disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Bipolar Disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.
Bipolar Disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. The symptoms may seem like separate problems, not recognized as parts of a larger problem. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.” ~ Sited from NIMH
I would like to start off by saying I do not think the name “Bipolar Disorder” does justice to the illness… and almost seems to belittle the disorder, and make it seem less significant in relation to other mental health disorders. Manic Depressive Illness is a much better description of the disorder, thereby being a more appropriate term/name as a whole. Manic alone is a single word offering a very precise description, as is the word Depressive. Therefor, Manic Depressive is less confusing, more blunt and to the point, with a certain er of importance and respect. Some people think “bipolar” simply means you have two sides to your personality, two “you’s” so-to-speak… and this thought process is incorrect on many fronts.
The chronological order of my documented personal illness began in the year 2000, where I spent five minutes with a Psychiatrist who then prescribed medication for Major Depression. In hindsight, this diagnosis was incorrect as I was already experiencing rapid cycling, and hypo-mania. Five minutes is NOT enough time to assess a patient with any type of Doctor. After many life changing events: divorce, not having custody of my children, and the final blow of an Ex’s suicide, my diagnosis was upgraded to Bipolar 2 Disorder (in 2003), along with the normal “piggybackers” anxiety, and insomnia. However, all of this fell on deaf ears as I refused to believe anything was wrong… and of course, I did not continue with therapy of any kind. Pharmaceutical or otherwise.
I finally had some reprieve for a couple years, and felt somewhat
well, and what little medication I would take from time to time, I discontinued completely. Then in 2007 I became manic, depressed, anxious, psychosomatic, suffered brutal panic attacks, and became paranoid I would die in my sleep. Can you imagine how my world flipped upside down?? Sleep was suddenly terrifying… it became a monster out to get me, and no matter what I tried to do, no matter how exhausted I became, sleep totally eluded me. Each time I would lie down to sleep, as my body would drift off, when I would suddenly have a jerking motion, I would wake up completely, thinking I had just jerked awake preventing myself from slipping into death. This paranoia became my downfall. This paranoia caused me to make very poor choices, ending my 2nd marriage, and because of circumstances out of my control, I once again did not have custody of my children. Alas, prompting the next diagnosis of Bipolar 1 with Psychosis.
This nearly destroyed me, I felt like I was going to break at any moment… a break in which I could not come back from. It took accepting I was Manic Depressive, accepting therapy, accepting medication, accepting that even-though I wanted my children with me more than anything in the world, I had to accept that they were healthy, and happy with their Fathers, and I had to accept that I needed to work on myself so I could be the Mom they needed of me.
Education is so important. I am not speaking of the kind from a college, but rather of life and learning about your true self, and educating yourself about the challenges we all have. Learn about mental health issues, and then share that knowledge! This is insanely important to do. Not only are we helping ourselves, but we are helping others in doing this as well.
Lets start discussing mental health… open a dialogue with all those you know. This will help with the stigma associated with it. Personally, I have learned to be a chameleon… I can throw that happy face on faster than anything else I can do… I believe most of us are very good at that. Why?? So nobody can see the storm raging within.
If you love someone with mental health problems… keep looking for that storm. After-all, nobody wants to suffer… and I think we all would welcome the anchor that you have the potential to become… I know I certainly would.